by Rachel Blaufeld
Date of Publication: October 16th 2014
Asher Peterson is a self-made man, owner of the Electric Tunnel, Sin City’s hottest adult entertainment spot. Brazen and formidable in designer T-shirts and motorcycle boots, he seems unflappable whether he’s making his rounds through the decadent decor of the Tunnel, or whipping through the desert heat on his bike. But inside he is a shattered man, desperate to understand what unconditional love from a woman feels like.
Hiding the effects of his emotionally stunted youth behind a gritty persona, and keeping his fractured soul buried deep while seeking out his baser instincts, Asher is convinced he is man enough to leave the past in the past. The only clue to his broken soul is his deep-seated need to provide safety and a good life for emotionally damaged women within the glamorous walls of his strip club.
Fooling himself that he deserves little in life, Asher keeps his big heart tightly guarded with everyone but Sienna Flower, his friend, business partner, and headliner. Until, that is, the night he runs into his childhood friend, Natalie Parker. While trolling a rival strip club, perusing their offerings for his own personal pleasure, he collides with his past. Coming face-to-face with a woman he only knew as a girl, he’s shaken when he finds the dark-haired beauty in a precarious position. Now all grown up, she’s a hardened soul who reminds him of where he came from, and stirs within him the need to protect yet another woman.
Known as Nat to most everyone, Natalie is a single mom to Quinn. But when she’s under the bright spotlights in a thong, she’s known as Natasha or Nataleigh Dallas. A girl who once had everything going for her, she’s now a jaded stripper with only room for her son in her life, and has erected impenetrable barriers around her heart. The strength of those walls is challenged the night a man she has known since childhood steamrolls his way back into her life, flashing those smoky-gray eyes that have always melted her.
A man she has loved from afar since she was a young girl, one who lights fire to her walls, burning deeper, setting everything ablaze––smoldering her.
Asher and Natalie, two people who are equally tormented by their own demons, set out to rescue each other as part-time lovers in a torrid, desperate workplace affair. Thinking they can remain friends while keeping their hearts at a safe distance, they find themselves at odds when their situation morphs into a messy, tangled mess.
Ripping free of each other proves impossible as they learn that the very web that connects them goes much deeper than they ever expected.
Asher was nothing less than mouthwatering as he prowled toward me across the mostly empty floor of the club. I’d changed out of my evening’s attire and was wearing worn-in skinny jeans with a hole in the knee and a nondescript black halter covered with a gray wraparound sweater, so I felt underdressed compared to the man coming my way.
My boss was still wearing the precisely creased slacks he’d worn for work, his dress shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest, revealing a light smattering of blond chest hair and the very edge of his tattoo, a navy blue bolt of electricity inked over his chest for his one and only baby, the Electric Tunnel. But it was a sight to see, and I did enjoy licking it from top to bottom.
In the privacy of his office, that is.
His hair and goatee were equally mussed from his running his hands through them. Sadly, it was a behavior I knew all too well, and there was nothing I wanted to do more than dive in and make it even messier.
As usual, he was wearing motorcycle boots with his suit pants. He was a hot mess of a man––there was no one else remotely like him. Despite the layer of expensive designer clothing, he was pure bad boy underneath. He’d never ditch his boots, they were as ingrained in him as his past, which was why I should have been hightailing it right out of the place. Instead, I stood planted like a palm tree blowing in the wind, waiting for the storm to arrive, stuck in the ground as if there were nothing I could do to stop the blustery weather heading my way, threatening to topple me over.
The guy was a god, and I was nothing more than a stripper who was smitten with him.
As I ran my hands through my own long hair, my fingers sifted through the big waves running through it. I’d set it in hot rollers on my break for a bachelor party I ran earlier, yet now it didn’t seem like enough for Asher. He should get more than the leftovers of my evening at work. He deserved fresh curls and nice clothing, and perfume not mixed with another man’s cologne.
I wanted to be more in his eyes. Hadn’t I always?
It is my pleasure to welcome Rachel Blaufeld, author of Smoldered, to Room With Books.
Rachel, how did you come up with the idea for this story?
Asher’s story sat buried deep within me all through writing Electrified, but I wasn’t ready to share it…just yet. Electrified focused on Sienna and her being completely broken, but the idea of a man being so emotionally fragmented, like Asher is, required more time to play out in my mind. He is not weak, actually quite the opposite, but how to share it the right way took time and patience.
Actually, I think Asher’s story has been with me for many years…since I fell in love with falling in love.
I am so hopelessly in love with Asher Peterson from Smoldered. Sigh.
Is there a message in Smoldered that you want readers to grasp?
I am originally a social worker, so I like to think my characters are steeped in psychological meaning. The Tunnel series is all about this…we are never really exactly who or what others perceive us as being, like the stripper who has no sexual experience to call her own or the strip club owner who cares more about the emotional wellbeing of his girls than the money. So, the message is to delve deep and get to know someone.
I can’t write a story without understanding what makes the characters tick beneath the love and sex and craziness of their lives.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Stopping. When I get going, I find it hard to break away from the characters. Their personalities and conversations take over my head. The biggest challenge is stopping for time with family or just getting a few hours of sleep.
What are your current projects?
- Following Smoldered, I have two books I’m working on…Tinged, which is book 3 in the Electric Tunnel Series and it is Mike’s story. If I don’t write this soon, my betas are going to come after me, so it is top priority.
- And, I am working on a new series. It is set in between my hometown in Pennsylvania, rural PA and another big city. The characters are Lane and Bess, and those two plagued my sleep and dreams for a week straight before I realized I had to write their story. I can’t say too much more, but it is going to be a very angsty read.
Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work?
Electrified is told in 3rd person and is truly a tale, I needed to tell as the narrator, but Smoldered is all Asher and Natalie in the first person. It is their story to tell. One little surprise, we do meet Mike in Smoldered and he is an integral part of the affair, so he does have a few chapters of his own.
Does music play any type of role in your writing?
I am always listening to music when I write. Everything from punk rock to hip-hop to Neil Diamond to Miley Cyrus. I like it all.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?
The Tunnel isn’t, but my new series is….not entirely based on myself or one person in particular, but draws from emotions of the past.
The number one question I get after readers finish Electrified is: Did you go to Strip Clubs? What do you think???? Ha!
When you start a book, do you already have the whole story in your head or is it built progressively?
About 85% – there are always 2 or 3 scenes that sneak in…
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Is that what I am? Just kidding. When my blogging columns got picked up by Yahoo, Huffington Post and Modern Mom, I first felt like a writer.
List three books you have recently read and would recommend.
All Indies →
Unbeloved – Madeline Sheehan – I love the whole Undeniable Series. Madeline made me actually sit down at my laptop and write my first book. Her books instilled a sense of confidence in me that I could be who I wanted and write what I wanted.
Very Bad Things – Ilsa Madden Mills – I LOVE this book. Seriously, Leo is so bad and dreamy and ugh, just everything…and, I adore anything NA- It brings to mind a time of life that I will not get back, but love living vicariously through NA stories.
This Tied Man (which I read a while ago, but I adored it, and I am not sure when the next one is coming out) – Tabitha McGowan.
Are there any new authors that have grasp your interest?
I have a group of authors, newbies like me, we have somewhat of a sisterhood, and it is really cool to lean on someone else going through a lot of the same emotions and to read others who write differently. These ladies are Christy Pastore, Susan Ward, Fabiola Francisco, C J Wells, Salem Archer, Terri Lyndie, and K L Shandwick.
Tell us something that people would be surprised you know how to do.
I actually can relax in yoga. It took me a while to learn how to do this. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when I truly let go, I can be void of anything else other than the moment. AND, then its over and I am back to running like crazy.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
I am on Facebook all the time http://facebook.com/rachelblaufeldtheauthor
And Twitter @rachelblaufeld
Also, Instagram at RachelBlaufeld
Unless I am writing, I am very chatty and always get back to readers. I just hope you like Charlie Hunnam because I cannot last a day without some mention or pic of him.
Thank you, Rachel, for taking time for a chat with our readers and for allowing Room With Books to be part of your tour.
Rachel Blaufeld is a social worker/entrepreneur/blogger turned author. Fearless about sharing her opinion, Rachel captured the ear of stay-at-home and working moms on her blog, BacknGrooveMom, chronicling her adventures in parenting tweens and inventing a product, often at the same time. She has also blogged for The Huffington Post, Modern Mom, and StartupNation.
Turning her focus on her sometimes wild-and-crazy creative side, it only took Rachel two decades to do exactly what she wanted to do—write a fiction novel. Now she spends way too many hours in local coffee shops plotting her ideas. Her tales may all come with a side of angst and naughtiness, but end lusciously.
Rachel lives around the corner from her childhood home in Pennsylvania with her family and two dogs. Her obsessions include running, coffee, icing-filled doughnuts, antiheroes, and mighty fine epilogues.